Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15
Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25
Chapter 26: Falling in Love
Bro ==> Watch Dirk fall in love
It’s weird, but you have to keep reminding yourself that Dirk, your little brother, is actually you. That you’re not really just some spectator to this whole event. That these events, that are occurring in the present moment, are your past.
You watch Dirk fall in love. You watch yourself fall in love.
And, though Dirk can’t yet hear thoughts, you can. You watch Jake fall in love too.
Distancing yourself from these events becomes harder. It’s difficult to see yourself loving Jake and to recognize that even though you’re watching it happen literally in front of your eyes, it’s not you.
You are Bro. You aren’t allowed to love Jake. Not yet.
So you deal with it. Time passes in an infinity of moments and you constantly remind yourself that this isn’t you that you’re watching. This is Dirk.
You’d like to say you’re completely cool and collected, but you aren’t. It’s hard to follow everything exactly as it happened. It’s hard to do the “wrong” thing sometimes, like send Dirk and Dave both after Damara.
As if you didn’t know better than that. Please. Damara’s the one who wrecked your shit last time. You wouldn’t just forget that.
But everything has a purpose.
When Dave pulls up to Haven in the Jeep with Dirk bleeding his life away in the back seat, you see how Jake has him cradled protectively in his arms. You feel the overwhelming concern Jake has for Dirk, and when you catch Jake’s eyes, you feel the depth of his compassion for him.
You don’t dwell on it, and instead, you pull Dirk from the backseat, carrying him into your office. “Fucking damn it,” you mutter under your breath. “This is so stupid. So fucking stupid.”
You tear Dirk’s shirt off and are relieved to see his wounds begin to heal on their own.
“Is he going to be ok?” Jake asks. You can hear the concern in his voice, in his thoughts. You know without a doubt that Jake at this point cares very much for your brother.
And it’s only been a day. How is that even fucking possible? How can people fall for each other so quickly, after being alone for so long?
You suppose you will never completely understand how it works.
“Yeah, he’ll scrape through. It takes more than Damara’s claws to end a Strider,” you reassure Jake.
It’s true. You think. You’re still insanely glad that John is a fairy and not at all swayed by Damara’s temptations. Despite that kid’s wild declarations that he’s “not a homosexual” you know he’s never been anything else.
You furrow your brows in concern over Dirk. You were passed out at this point in time in your past, and you hadn’t realized just how bad you looked. Quietly, you murmur to Jake, “he’s badly hurt though.”
In a shocking gesture of concern, Dave wedges himself between you and Jake. He’s hysterical, his voice trembling a bit as he says, “this was my fault. It was all my fucking fault, let me—”
“No it wasn’t,” you cut him off quickly and hold him back when he tries to lean forward towards Dirk. You’re not sure what Dave was planning on doing, since he doesn’t know how to transfer his energy yet. At least, you don’t think he does. “He didn’t listen to me, and Damara got to him. That’s not your fault.”
No, it’s not Dave’s fault. If anything, it’s your own fault for following the fucking timeline. But you have to. A quick glance at Jake tells you that he’s still very concerned about Dirk.
“And besides,” you pause, glancing at your overly gaunt brother. “You’re not exactly in tip-top shape yourself, lil’ man.”
Dave’s thoughts tell you exactly what happened earlier, and you see glimpses of Damara sucking the life out of your baby bro.
You really hate that bitch.
“But we’ve gotta do something!” Dave insists.
“Yeah,” you sigh, thinking about what you need to do next. As convenient as it would be to let them all stay in the room, you can’t. If you let them all stay and watch you feed Dirk, Jake won’t ask about it later. Jake won’t find out that Dirk’s an incubus, and there will be more secrets kept between the two of them. More than there already are. “Yeah we do. All of you, get out.”
“I beg your pardon?” Jake says. You glance at him quickly and see how affronted he looks. It’s as if he believes that he deserves to be here. You’re not sure whether to be thrilled or miffed about that.
“You heard me, English. Out,” you tell him, pointing at the door. You try not to feel anything as you see his shocked expression. “Even you, Dave. Go grab something to eat. You’re skinny as a rail.”
“Bullshit! Dirk’s my bro too! I should be able to—” Dave begins to have a little outburst, but you quickly stop that with a pointed glare. You’ve trained him enough not to talk sass back to you, and you see him visibly work to control himself. He manages to do it after a moment and sighs, “ok. Fine. But he’s really hurt, so don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”
This actually gets a small laugh out of you. “I think I know a thing or two about my own brother.” In your mind, you add “about myself.”
“Now out, before I lose my patience,” you command, indicating with a small jerk of your head toward the door.
They don’t have any further comments. Dave and Jake both shuffle out of your office, and even John glances back sadly from where he’s riding on Dave’s shoulder. Dave pulls the door shut when they leave.
Finally, you’re alone with your defiant little brother. The younger version of you that wouldn’t listen to the voice of reason and turn the Jeep around when you told him to.
Time to slap him awake.
Dirk comes to, and you feed him your energy in the biggest hug you’ve given him in a long time. You haven’t had to feed him since he broke up with Caliborn, and the old familiar feeling of him pulling your energy into him almost makes you smile. Almost.
When you realize that you got Dirk’s blood all over your shirt, you take it off and throw it at him. Dirk seems all too pleased to have one of your shirts. Though he’ll never outright say it, you know that the kid admires you. It’s kind of sweet in a sort of weird way.
After you hand him a giant Mega Gulp cup of Yeti blood that you collected yourself yesterday, you let the people waiting in the hall back in. Of course, Dave didn’t leave to eat anything and he’s just as skinny as before. You return to your desk and watch with a small smile as John flies into Dirk’s chest, and Dave fistbumps him.
Your smile grows sad as you see Jake kneel beside Dirk with a smile that could brighten the entire room. He’s so happy that your brother’s ok. You love that, but it also twists the metaphorical knife in your chest a bit.
Despite feeling like crap, you can tell that Dirk is very happy. He can tell that Dave, John, and Jake care about him. And when his eyes come to rest on Jake, you can sense the extra bit of interest behind his thoughts.
Dirk’s intrigued by him. Attracted to him.
Dirk likes him.
“Glad you’re all right, Strider! I’d hate to lose my partner after only a day! I’m certain that would be a horrible new record,” Jake says, pulling your attention from those thoughts.
“There’ve been worse records,” you assure him. Briefly, your mind flashes to your father. The first monster you both faced was Lord English. You remember how that ended all too well.
Quickly, you blink the thoughts away, showing no signs of your pain as you continue, “but just to be sure you don’t add to them, you’re all taking the rest of the night off. Damara was the most challenging target by far. Karkat and his crew can handle the rest of them. Dirk, make sure Dave eats something.”
You refill Dirk’s cup with Yeti blood before he leaves and watch as they exit your office. Once they’re gone, you throw yourself onto the couch Dirk was just bleeding all over, not caring that you’re ruining yet another shirt or that you’ll need to power-wash that later.
It’s in motion. Your grand schemes are all going according to plan.
You just wish it wouldn’t hurt this much.
* * *
Bro ==> Watch Dirk fall in love
You do. You see it happening every night that Jake and Dirk hang out together, watching movies and TV shows, playing games, and laughing into the early morning hours. You’re really so happy for them, and you know that it has to happen.
But it hurts. It fucking hurts like hell.
You turn to the only source of comfort you’ve ever found in these situations. Rather, she comes to you.
Her Imperious Condescension decided long ago on the name “Betty Crocker” to help her fit into the mortal world better. Through controlling the baking industry, she has made herself an influential figure in the entrepreneurial and capitalistic state of the world.
Along with the Crocker Corporation, she owns quite a bit of the land, and you have a feeling it won’t be too many more centuries before she takes over everything completely. You don’t have much of an opinion on it, as the current leaders seem about as competent as snails. Assuming you still keep the Condesce’s favor in the following centuries, and you have a feeling you will, you’ll probably have a larger part to play in keeping world peace than you ever wanted.
Jake will too. As a first guardian, you know that protecting the people of this universe is his responsibility.
The thought makes you pause as you consider it. The entire universe is Jake’s responsibility. Why is he spending so much time with your one little planet? One tiny speck in the vast universe. Is there really so much trouble here that he has to spend his days on this planet?
Or is there something that convinced him to stay?
And is he—
—is he waiting for—
A feral growl from the Condesce reminds you that you have other responsibilities right now. Gone are the days of meeting in her throne room. Now she owns penthouse suites on several high rises around the world, and she frequently invites you to enjoy her company.
Once you finish to her satisfaction, she tells you of the current demonic issues in the world. You make a few cursory swipes at your thoroughly mussed hair and do your best to straighten your clothing into a presentable manner. You take a couple seconds to scribble down the assignments on a small pad of paper you keep in your pocket and head out the door.
You’re late to arrive at work, and you sweep into the lounge to find Jake, Dirk, Dave, John, and Terezi all gathered around a “friendly” game of pool. “Dirk. Dave. Got your assignments,” you tell them tersely.
Dirk takes one look at you, and you can hear his critical thoughts. Over the centuries, he has developed a strong hatred for the Condesce, and he thoroughly despises that you feed from her. Little does he know your reasoning, and you don’t care to explain it to him.
“Thought you said you were gonna stop seeing her?” he drawls, looking at you like he’s better than you.
In a flash, you push him to the ground, placing your boot atop his chest. You won’t have him saying things like that in front of others.
You won’t have him saying that in front of Jake.
“Was that a challenge, lil’ man?” you ask him, digging your heel down just a hint to show you will gladly strife and beat his ass if he wants.
“She’s not my problem,” Dirk says. It looks like he’s trying to shrug and doing his best to look cool despite being trapped under your boot.
You’ve gotta give him some points for trying, but you still want to strife him until he begs for mercy. But you don’t. Instead, you drop the assignments on top of his shades and say, “get to work.”
You can’t bear to look at Jake and to see what he thinks of this whole mess. You don’t want to know what he would think if he knew the reason you got together with the Condesce in the first place was because of him. Because you couldn’t stand being with anyone else besides him, and because feeding from her is the quickest and most platonic way to feed yourself.
And never once have you felt any pleasure from it. Not once in the near thousand years that you’ve used Her Imperious Condescension.
And you have used her. Despite what she thinks, it’s been quite the opposite. The Condesce, and the power she carries, rests in the palm of your hand now. Not that you even know what to do with that power.
Rather than dwell on the thoughts any longer, you make your way back into your office and leave your brothers to their tasks.
* * *
BRO ==> WATCH DIRK FALL IN LOVE
Quite a bit of time passes. It’s been about half a year since Jake came to work for you.
You manage to hold it together, and when you find yourself falling too deeply into despair, you visit the Condesce to knock it back out of you. She’s actually quite good at setting your mind straight. She reminds you of just what you have to do and sends you to kill the most powerful demons in the world.
So you do. All the most fearsome monsters fall to your blade as you wipe them out cleanly with the fury of an incubus that has been sexually repressed for a thousand years. One who is watching the love of his life fall for another.
Never mind that Dirk is actually you. Jake loves someone else, and it fucking stings worse than the bitter winds of Antarctica, which you have recently visited to kill a hundred year old snow monster. Dirk and Dave especially disliked its blood when you fed it to them.
You watch as Jake becomes Dirk’s best friend. You watch your little brother fall further and further in love, without quite realizing it. Dirk knows that he wants Jake, but as of right now, he still thinks it’s because he’s an incubus.
And then the day finally comes. A day that you have dreaded for quite some time.
John and Dave come back from their work a little bit early, bringing with them someone you never wanted to see again.
“Dude, we should just kill her,” you hear Dave say as they make their way down the hallway toward your office.
“No we can’t!” John insists. “Just look at her! She’s not hurting anyone at all! She was all out on her own like a stray cat!”
“—you did not just make that joke, Egbert,” Dave says flatly.
“It wasn’t a joke!” His tiny voice replies. Then, after a second, he amends, “ok, maybe it was a little tiny bit intentional— Hi Karkat!”
“Oh fuck no. Egbert, Strider, tell me you didn’t just bring one of your targets back to the motherfucking bar!” Karkat’s annoyed voice drifts from down the hall to your door.
“I felt sorry for her!” John exclaims.
“John felt sorry for her,” Dave agrees simply.
“I am not fucking deal with this hoofbeast shit,” Karkat mutters, which you catch despite his distance with your enhanced hearing. Then, louder, he grumbles, “take it up with Bro and get out of my sight before I gouge out my own eyes.”
“Ok, bye Karkat!” John agrees happily.
They turn the corner into your doorway and your face pales.
Meulin Leijon. They brought fucking Meulin Leijon with them.
That means today is the day that you will flip your shit and kill half of your employees. And really, they’re not your employees anymore. Most of them never were.
They’re your dearest friends.
You’ve got to warn them, but first, you’ve got to get your brother out of here. As usual, you show no emotion as you look at Dave and say, “you think this is a joke?”
“No,” Dave answers quickly. “John felt sorry for her and—”
“I know,” you cut him off tersely. “So you thought it was better to let me clean up your mess? Shit, thought I was done wiping your pasty ass centuries ago.”
You’re not always this mean to Dave, but you really want to get him out of here. You definitely don’t want him coming back tonight. Inside, you cringe a little bit too, because you know that what you’re sending him to just might be worse than what would happen if you let him stay.
But you know that all of this has to happen. Because you’re being a dickwad to him right now, he won’t come back tonight.
He’ll go straight home and be captured by agents from Derse. He’ll sit in a prison cell for days, slowly losing his self-control. He’ll almost kill John—but Dirk will be there to stop it.
And because of all that, Dave and John will have their first kiss.
Dave is silent, waiting for your orders.
“Get out of here. Go home,” you sigh, waving him away. “I’ll fix your mess.”
Wordlessly, he nods and ducks away with John, leaving you alone with Meulin.
You stare at her. She stares at you. A tense few moments pass by, and you wonder just how things are going to go down. The last time you saw her, she was dragon food for one of your best bartenders.
You decide not to let things get too out of hand. Quickly, you flashstep to her side and grab her by the arm, pulling her down the hallway to the door leading to the basement.
Finally, she starts struggling against you, but you yank her off of her feet. Flashstepping too quickly for her to gain her footing, you pull her hastily down the stairs and throw her into the magically enhanced cell you made just for this reason a long time ago. She growls and scratches at the bars when you slam the door shut behind her. It’s an awful horrible sound, but you’ll let her keep making it for a while.
You have to warn your friends about tonight first.
Ducking your head into Karkat’s office, you tell him, “get everyone in my office. Now.”
Karkat raises an eyebrow at you. “What about the customers?”
“They’ll be fine for a few minutes,” you answer shortly.
Karkat knows that this isn’t like you. He’s actually a really good judge of character. Wordlessly, he nods and gets up to help you gather everyone together. Karkat collects the closer people in the lounge, and you flashstep your way to the bar area, informing the others.
In short time, all your dearest friends are gathered in your office. Latula, the last to arrive, pulls the door shut behind her.
You waste no time breaking it to them. “Tonight Kurloz Makara is going to attack here and possess me. I want you all to get out of here before that happens.”
A tense moment passes while everyone processes what you just said. Finally, a voice draws everyone’s attention.
“Bro, I’m far past the point of questioning how you know these things, because you’re always right,” Porrim says, stepping up from where she was leaning against the wall. When she looks at you, there is conviction and gentle compassion behind her jade eyes. “I took you in when you were alone and had nothing. I’m not about to abandon you now.”
“I won’t either,” Kanaya also agrees, standing resolutely behind her sister.
“No,” you say, holding your hands out in a defensive motion. “No no no. Before anyone else can stand up and be a fucking hero-martyr, quit it. You guys don’t get a choice here. I don’t think you understand the situation. Kurloz will control me. If you stay, I will kill you.”
“Then that’s a risk we’ll have to take,” Terezi pipes in. “I didn’t start this fight to give it up now.”
“Neither did I,” Latula agrees.
“No, fuck, am I speaking gibberish or something?” You sigh in annoyance. “What part of ‘go away or you will die’ don’t you understand?”
“We understand your words, and the meaning behind them,” Kankri says quietly and calmly from where he is sitting on your couch. “But what I think everyone means to say is that one cannot assume that the best course of action is the same for every individual. If you examine the psyche of the soul, and the tendencies in a person’s unique blood, then you will see that—”
“You aren’t getting rid of us,” Karkat says, cutting his cousin off before he can get started.
You’re silent for a moment, surveying the room, and reading each person’s thoughts. Like Karkat said, it seems you won’t be getting rid of any of your employees tonight.
“You’re scared,” you murmur, shaking your head. Sighing, you pull off your cap and rake your hands through your hair. Then, you replace your hat and level a glare at all of them. “All of you are scared. I can hear it in your thoughts. Don’t you want to run?”
“Fuck yeah I want to run,” Karkat admits quickly. “But we can’t—no, we won’t just leave you. Whatever happens tonight, we’ll stand and face it together.”
“You all really feel this way?” you ask. Even though you pose the question, you can hear the resounding affirmative from the minds of everyone.
One by one, they catch your eyes and nod.
“You’re all fucking crazy,” you mutter. Another silent moment passes by. Finally, you smirk and say, “All right then, if y’all want to stay, prove it to me. Get back to work, and try to discreetly get as many of the customers out as you can. I’ll make a call to Jane Crocker after all this mess. She’ll bring people back to life, but dying can change a person. Not usually in the good way. Let’s make sure that happens to as few people as possible.”
That wasn’t the most uplifting speech, but your friends scramble to do exactly as you say.
By the time Dirk and Jake find you downstairs in the basement attempting to feed Meulin, everything is in place. Many of the customers have been subtly ushered out, but a few, like Cronus, are not dissuaded. You dig into your memory and try to recall if they will ever come back to Haven after this event, but you don’t really know.
“Bro, you remember she can’t hear, right?” Dirk says as he and Jake walk up beside you.
You place the milk you had been attempting to give Meulin on the floor just inside her cell and look over at them. “Yeah, I know. I wish John had just finished the job. He’s too kind for his own good. Look at her. She doesn’t belong in a cell. She’s a feral animal.”
And she really is. Now that she is safely behind bars and not attacking you, it’s easy to notice the animalistic way she acts, her body crouched unnaturally over the milk, happily lapping it up with her tongue. She glances up at Dirk and doesn’t seem to care one whit about him. It’s when her eyes meet Jake that her entire body fills with a wild frenzy. You see it happen before your eyes, as her muscles tense and she drops the milk onto the floor. As if she’s propelled by some evil demonic force (and she probably is) she crashes into the bars, reaching desperately with clawed hands for Jake.
ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH
“Ugh,” you groan, holding a hand up to your head as her thoughts bombard you. They fill the entire room violently, and you’re certain that they are like a giant fireworks display to any telepath in the area.
Like Kurloz. It won’t take him long to find her like this.
You hear Dirk ask something about what happened to her, and you respond, “I’m not sure. She just keeps thinking ‘ENGLISH ENGLISH ENGLISH!’ over and over again. Her mind’s a fucking broken record.”
A few seconds pass by, and you watch both Dirk and Jake back hesitantly away from her. She pouts sadly and sighs. Though she doesn’t say anything, and she doesn’t even think in actual thoughts, you can tell from her feelings and odd thought patterns what she is thinking.
“She says she doesn’t want us to be scared of her. She won’t hurt us. She’s just really happy to see Jake,” you translate. You glare at her from behind your shades. You bet she’s happy to see Jake. Rather, she’s happy to have found the demon inside him.
“You know her?” Dirk asks.
Jake looks confused. His brows furrow for a moment and he is filled with consternation as he tries and fails to remember her. Finally, he shakes his head. “Not really. I mean, I did have to fight her once, but I don’t recall meeting her any other time.”
You feel the affronted feelings come from Meulin and translate, “she’s insulted. She says she helped you in the past.”
“She did?” he marvels, again digging into his memories. You hear him futilely attempt to remember exactly what happened all that time ago, but the only things that come back are flashes of destruction. Images of ruin. The same images that Jake will eventually show Dirk later. When he realizes that he can’t remember, he reaches out and touches her hand, “I’m so sorry little one, I don’t remember that.”
Her mind flashes to Kurloz, and somehow you know what she’s thinking. “She says Kurloz warned her that might happen. She’s glad she got to see you again.”
Moment of truth. You turn to Jake and gaze at him intently, watching his mind very carefully. “You sure you don’t know her, English?”
“Positive,” he sighs with exasperation.
Jake doesn’t remember.
Of course he doesn’t. You wiped it from his mind. Mystery fucking solved. Way to go Scooby Doo.
But fuck you’re such a shithead. What right did you really have to take those memories from him? Why did you even fucking do it? Granted, most of them were gone before you got there, but did you really have to erase all of them?
Yeah, you did. Because Jake couldn’t fall in love with you. Not when he has to fall in love with Dirk.
But fucking hell. If you didn’t know better, you would say that he did anyway. He kissed you back. He fucking kissed you back.
—which means absolutely nothing, since you took that memory from him.
Dirk makes some comment about never wanting to see Kurloz again. This is the first time Kurloz has surfaced from Derse since Terezi sent him there long ago, but you did point him out to Dirk once when he visited Derse as a child.
Dirk crawled into your bed every night for an entire month to escape the nightmares.
Meulin’s upset, of course. You interpret, “she says Kurloz isn’t bad, he’s just being used.”
Yeah right. You will believe that the same day Lord English decides he’s actually a really nice guy underneath it all. Meulin’s thoughts continue to wander, and you begin to get mental images of other demons lurking nearby. Not just any demons. Agents.
They’re gathering. They’re waiting.
But for what?
“Hmm, she’s got a lot of intel on a large demon base nearby. It’s—extensive,” you pause, probing into her thoughts a bit deeper.
The agents become more clear in your mind, and you almost shudder when you see their faces. You know at least one of them. Spades Slick. And three others. The three you assume captured you and Jake that fateful night long ago.
But you don’t have time to think about this now. The clock is ticking and you have to get Dirk and Jake out of here. They have to miss the first wave of Kurloz’s assault.
So you fake a wince and clutch the side of your head. You take off your orange cap like you have become accustomed to doing, and run your fingers through your hair before putting it back on. “Ugh, look, I hate to break it to ya, but reading her frantic thoughts is really taxing. It’s like a fucking ICP concert full of rainbow Faygo showers in there. Let’s wrap this up and head back outside.”
You lead the way back up the stairs, lingering as Jake thanks Meulin.
“Why’d you thank her?” Dirk asks him.
“She claims to have helped me in the past. I don’t remember it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t thank her for it,” Jake explains.
Your throat tightens. You remember this moment.
Quickly, you delve into Dirk’s thoughts.
“So good-natured. No wonder I’m in love with this guy,” Dirk thinks. You actually hear him pause and take a small quick breath.“Wait. Love? Ugh. Fuck fuck fuck! When did that happen? Half a year ago I didn’t know Jake! How did I grow to love him so fast?”
How indeed. It’s a question you don’t think you’ll ever be able to answer.
Dirk goes on to do his “Dirk-patented” John Egbert test. He doesn’t want to fuck John, which means he’s not hungry.
“Shit. I do love him,” Dirk thinks forlornly. Goddamn it, the kid is so emo. Who the fuck is sad about being in love?
Oh. You. Heh, guess you never grew out of it.
You glance back at Dirk, your own sign that you heard that thought. Despite maintaining his expression, you see the redness seep into the skin of his cheeks.
You could lay it on him right now. You’d love to, but one, your heart couldn’t take it, and two you just don’t have the time. Instead, you lead the way into your office.
Unsuspecting of anything, Jake follows you both. He still looks a bit guilty from not remembering Meulin, but he has no idea what just transpired between you and Dirk. His mind is wandering to a 10:30 show of some horrible movie in the theaters. Jake’s very excited about it and hopes that he’ll be able to catch it with Dirk.
He doesn’t know that Dirk loves him.
He doesn’t know that your past self loves him.
He doesn’t know that you love him.
Fuck this got complicated.
Deciding it’s best to just ignore it for now, you plunge on ahead with your plan to get them out ASAP. “You saw how defensive Meulin was about Kurloz. That means he’s out there. She claims he’s not a threat, but if we’re holding her captive here, you can bet your ass he’ll be shortly behind.”
“So you want us to stay here and protect the fort?” Dirk asks.
No. No that’s the opposite of the reaction you wanted.
“Negative, lil’ man,” you respond smoothly, shaking your head. “You’ve got work to do out there.”
Dirk looks like he’s about to say something, when Jake pipes up. “I say, they seem to have no shortage of demon hunters.”
You love Jake right now. Even more than usual. And you silently give thanks to whatever higher being exists that Jake said something. You’re quick to respond.
“Got that right. And don’t forget, the best hunter of us all is here,” you say, grinning and pointing your thumb at yourself to get a rise out of Dirk. “Me.”
“Yeah yeah,” Dirk mutters like he doesn’t care, but he does. He knows you’re the best, and he can’t wait until the day that he’ll be able to beat you.
Suddenly, you realize that that day will never come. Before Dirk will ever have a chance to beat you, he’ll be sent back into the past to become you.
It’s a tragedy. He’ll never win. You’ll never win.
You’re not sure what happened to Bro after you left, but you know he must be smirking at you from somewhere. He’ll always have one over on you.
But now isn’t the time to think about Bro. It’s time to get one last rise out of Dirk before you kick him out.
“Now get outta here,” you say, handing their assignment paper to Dirk. You can’t help the smirk that comes to your lips. You feel Dirk’s dread at what you’re about to say, and you love it. You fucking love it to pieces. “With any luck, you’ll finish early and be able to catch that 10:30 show.”
Jake immediately brightens, and you feel the happiness bursting out of him with the prospect of seeing the movie. Dirk does his best to keep a straight face, but you feel the loathing in his soul as they both walk away.
For a little while, things settle back into a tense normalcy. 10:30 rolls around, and you know that Dirk and Jake are sitting in the theater watching some terrible film. You also know that Dirk is thinking about his newfound love. He’s mulling it over and arguing with AR over it.
As you sit in your office chair thinking it over yourself, you feel Kurloz’s presence invade your territory. He’s clearly heard the beacon of Meulin’s thoughts, and he’s come for her.
Your jaw tenses as you reach for your katana. You know what’s going to happen. You know, and you warned everyone, but they’re all still here. You can feel the presence of all your friends, going about their business in the bar as if they aren’t going to die shortly.
But they chose this path. As did you. You can only hope things will be different. You’ll be damned (again) if you don’t try your hardest not to get possessed this time.
Yet, with a sinking feeling, you know that this time will be no different than the last. As you pass by Karkat’s office, you tell him, “hide.”
Karkat isn’t under your influence. At least, you don’t think he is. But silently he nods to you. He knows what his role in this whole mess is going to be.
It’s going to be clean-up.
* * *
Bro ==> Put up a fight
You certainly do.
You meet Kurloz just outside the door and fight him for all of five seconds before he places you under his control again. You try to block him out, but you can’t. Your mind has been open to reading thoughts for a thousand years now, and you never bothered to try not reading them.
You’re an easy target for Kurloz Makara. He snatches control of your mind quickly.
And then, you go on a killing spree.
They put up a good fight, your employees. Your friends.
You wish that they wouldn’t resist you like this. If they’d just let Kurloz through, then you wouldn’t have to do this to them. You wouldn’t have to slice them open like butter and paint the floors and walls with their blood.
One by one, they fall. You lose track of the number that you kill or injure enough to incapacitate them.
The last two to fall are Terezi and Kanaya, who follow you down to the cellar where Meulin is being held captive.
They were such good employees. Such loyal friends. You really hate to do this to them, but it’s for their own good.
And then, you sense him coming. That other you is only going to get in your way. You’d better take him out quickly.
When Dirk comes down the stairs, you quickly throw a handful of ninja stars at him, but he dodges out of the way. Damn.
“Bro?” he says, and something about him seems a little off. But you don’t think about it. He’s in your way, so you have to stop him too.
You strife, and in the first swing of your katana, you draw blood on his arm. This fight is going to be fast, you think.
You’re not holding anything back. You haven’t for centuries, but usually you toy with him a bit. In the past, you used to drag Lil Cal out and fight with him.
Usually, your strifes are full of taunting. Knock him to the ground. Mock him for a few seconds. Let him lunge at you. Knock him to the ground again. Mock him some more.
But tonight, you’re going for the kill. He’s in Kurloz’s way. You can’t let him leave here alive.
He’s shouting some things to Jake, but you don’t pay attention to him. Jake won’t get in your way.
You fight, and slowly but surely you wear him down. You’ve drawn blood a few times now. Dirk won’t last too much longer. Soon, he will be out of your way too.
Suddenly, a loud sound fills the air, and you collapse to the ground like a rag-doll.
What—what are you doing?
What are you—
There’s talking around you, but you don’t comprehend what’s being said. Your mind is reeling from having Kurloz’s control pulled forcefully from your mind. A quick glance at the pile of purple dust on the floor tells you that it’s because Kurloz died.
Karkat’s voice comes into clarity first. “—no way in hell I’m getting close enough to grubfucking psychic Makara for him to work his mind-control douchery on me. Look at what it did to Bro! Half our office is gone.”
“That many?” you murmur quietly. You knew the toll was going to be heavy, but you didn’t know it would be that bad. Looks like there will be a lot of clean up and apologies in order. You struggle to sit up and get started.
Dirk is at your side instantly, helping you up. “Yeah. It’s pretty bad upstairs,” he agrees.
“Fuck,” you swear, thinking about everything that will have to be done. Of course, you knew this was coming, and you’ve been through it all in your mind quite a few times. It still doesn’t make it hurt any less. You turn to Karkat and pointedly tell him, “I need you to help the others upstairs. Anyone who’s still alive. Call in Jane. We’re going to need her.”
Karkat and Jane have some issues. You know that and you don’t care. “Do we have to call her? We could—” he stops in his tracks when you glare at him. “Fine fine, one Crocker bitch coming your way.”
Once Karkat leaves, it’s just you, Dirk, Jake, and the bodies of your two friends in the basement. And some demon dust, but that doesn’t count.
You can’t understand why your friends stayed. You warned them that this was going to happen. That you’d flip out and kill everyone. But they stayed. They stayed and now—
“Kurloz was controlling you,” Dirk says, bringing your attention from your thoughts. “This wasn’t your fault.”
“Like hell it wasn’t,” you growl with frustration, taking off your cap just long enough to rake your fingers through your hair. “Kurloz got to me easier because I’m a telepath. I couldn’t block him out.”
“Then that’s something you’ll just have to work on, but we have other things to worry about right now,” Dirk says. You sense the shift in his feelings instantly as he thinks, “like Dave.”
“Hey, have you seen Dave tonight?” he asks. Now he’s thinking about a phonecall from one frantic John Egbert.
You remember that phonecall. You remember what happened to your brother this night, and it sends a pang of worry through your heart.
Dave was captured by agents and taken to Derse. He’s probably sitting in the cell already. He’s probably been there most of the evening.
For Dave, that’s already a few Derse days.
But you can’t say any of these things. Dirk has to figure out where his brother is all on his own, and save him on his own. It has to take longer. Dave has to be stuck in Derse longer. “Not since he brought in Meulin. Why?” you ask, making sure to look concerned. It isn’t hard since you are concerned about Dave.
Dirk is immediately filled with worry. “John called a little while ago. He sounded more freaked out than usual.”
“Fuck,” you growl again. Now that you’re thinking about it, you think some of this was in Meulin’s jumbled thoughts. You never saw Dave in her thoughts, but there was a peculiar plot in place. One that you still don’t fully understand.
The plot aside, one fact is certain. Dave was captured by agents from Derse. And not just any agents. You have a feeling Dave’s kidnapping involves a certain crew of four problematic agents.
The Midnight Crew.
“I’ve gotta get to him,” you murmur, flashstepping over to the staircase. It’s a ruse, of course. Dirk has to be the one to go.
Dirk is beside you instantly, placing a hand on your shoulder and shaking his head. “Nah, Bro, you’ve got a lot to handle here. I’ll take care of him. Where’d you send him?”
You allow Dirk to stop you in your tracks. Instead of running up the stairs, you turn to him and say, “that’s the problem. I didn’t send him anywhere else. He could be anywhere. He could be—”
“Chill,” Dirk says. He’s feeling overly confident, which kind of makes you proud. If you squint hard enough, you can see the leader your little brother will grow up to be. “I know his usual hangouts. I’ll find our baby bro and make sure he’s safe.”
“Ok, we’ll play it your way. But at the first sign of trouble—” you trail off and give him a look.
“I’ll call you. Got it,” he finishes. Without another word, he collects a frazzled Jake and heads back upstairs.
This is going to be Dirk’s problem now. Finding and saving his brother. You know that you can trust him to do the job right. After all, he’s you and you did the job just fine a thousand years ago. Still, it doesn’t settle the sense of unease in the pit of your stomach.
Because if he doesn’t succeed, there are terrible consequences. If somehow you did something wrong over the last millennia, you slipped up once, something happened slightly out of line, things just might be different this time.
Dave could die.
But you can’t think about that. You have to trust that even if something is a little bit off, Dirk is still just as competent as you were. You have to lay your youngest brother’s life in his hands.
After all this time, you’ve watched Dirk grow. You’ve seen him become the most competent hunter on your team. And after all this time, you’ve finally come to a conclusion.
You trust Dirk. You trust the man that you raised with your own hands to do everything he can to save the world. Because pretty soon, that’s exactly what he will be doing. It won’t just be the life of your brother in his hands.
It will be the entire universe.
* * *
I apologize for Bro’s emoness in this chapter. Also for waiting this long to call him “Bro.” It’s hard to give up the ghost.
Once again, I really wanted to add more onto this chapter, but then it would have been dreadfully long! Alas, I don’t have the next chapter written in any fashion, or I would share that like last time. Please be patient! Grad school is getting difficult for me again, but I’ll try my best to bring you the end of this story soon.
Thanks for reading this far! Hope you found this entertaining. =)